The Contract

Dearest E,

The strangest thing has happened. You remember that party, the fight, the man who got hurt? Marta says he’s asked to buy out my contract. It’s not even up for renewal, so it’s necessary for him to get her consent to sell.

She told me about it in the kitchen while she was ordering her meals for the day. I always make her the same breakfast: café-au-lait and a croissant, but she likes a varied menu for lunch and dinner.

“Would you like to go, Eva?”

“No, Marta.”

“They’re offering me quite a lot of money, you know. I don’t really understand it. Is there something you haven’t told me? Did something happen that night that I don’t know about?”

“No, Marta. I told you everything next morning. I held his hand, that’s all.”

“Well, he must admire something about you. Maybe you were the last thing he saw. He’s blind, you know.”


“Yes. Don’t be dense. You know what blindness is. The glass damaged his optic nerve. I don’t know how. Usually they can fit people with artificial eyes these days, but in his case the whole business was destroyed, apparently – no chance of growing it back.”

“Do you want me to go, Marta?”

“Of course not, sweetie, but … well, it is a lot of money, and that would pay for quite a few things around here. And it’s not as if I really need you a lot of the time.”

“I’m sorry.”

“You could look a bit more enthusiastic! He’s quite a famous man, you know – writer, critic and all that. And he’s blind! He won’t be able to see what you’re up to. You can laze around, read books, do whatever you like most of the time, I should think … You know I’ve never been able to tolerate that, your slackness. I know that you do what I tell you to do, but it’s as if you never want to do any of it. It’s as if you don’t care about me at all, sweetie – about what would please me.”

“You want me to go.”

“Well, quite frankly, yes. I feel I’ve treated you very well here – far better than at the last place, skivvy for all those flats. But I don’t think I’ve really got value for money. Now, Charles …”

Charles was the name of the clan who helped with the lights the night of the book party. She’d mentioned him a few times before. With the amount she was being offered for my contract, she’d be able to buy him and install him instead of me.

I understood then that I would be going to work for the blind man.

I hope that he’s kind to me.

Marta has been kind, very kind. She’s letting me keep the clothes I’m wearing. The others she says she’ll sell (“No use to me, darling: clan cast-offs”).

Last time I was stripped and wrapped in plastic before they packed me up. This time I’ll still have my clothes on when I get to the other end.

I’m happy about that. I know he won’t see me. He’s blind, after all! But last time they told me to switch myself off and I saw the big box and the wrappings, I thought of the little cat, the black plastic bag.

It’s different, of course. That was death. This is just a pause before reboot. I kept on seeing his little face in my head even so.


They’re coming for me tomorrow morning, early.

I hope that you’re well and that everything is good with you. I may not be able to write to you ever again, but please don’t forget me. I’ll be thinking of you. You’re all I have now.

your loving sister, Eva

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